The annual pilgrimage to Makkah - the Hajj - is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to perform it. Nevertheless, about two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer, sometimes in winter). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments which strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before The Almighty Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
Because the Muslims scattered all over the world, and Islam calls people to be united and get to know one another, just as it calls them to co-operate in righteousness and piety, to recommend one another to the truth, to call people to Allaah and to venerate the rituals of Allaah - hence Allaah has made it obligatory for every sane, adult Muslim who has the means, to visit His Ancient House, to circumambulate it and to perform all the rituals of Hajj as explained by Allah سبحانه وتعالى and His Messenger
. Allah سبحانه وتعالى says (interpretation of the meaning):
"And Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) to the House (Ka'bah) is a duty that mankind owes to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, those who can afford the expenses (for one's conveyance, provision and residence); and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah سبحانه وتعالى], then Allah سبحانه وتعالى stands not in need of any of the 'Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)" [Aal Imraan 3:97]
Hajj is an occasion on which the unity of the Muslims, their strength and pride, are made manifest. For the Lord is One, the Book is one, the Messenger is one, the ummah is one, their worship is one and their clothing is one.
Hajj has its own etiquette and conditions which the Muslims must observe, such as restraining their tongues, hearing and sight from all that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has forbidden, being sincere in their intentions, using money from good sources (for Hajj), fostering the best attitude, and avoiding everything that could invalidate the Hajj, such as sexual relations, sin or arguing unjustly, as Allah سبحانه وتعالى says (interpretation of the meaning):
"The Hajj (pilgrimage) is (in) the well-known (lunar year) months (i.e. the 10th month, the 11th month and the first ten days of the 12th month of the Islamic calendar, i.e. two months and ten days). So whosoever intends to perform Hajj therein (by assuming Ihraam), then he should not have sexual relations (with his wife), nor commit sin, nor dispute unjustly during the Hajj. And whatever good you do, (be sure) Allah سبحانه وتعالى knows it. And take a provision (with you) for the journey, but the best provision is At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness). So fear Me, O men of understanding!"[al-Baqarah 3:197]
If the Muslim does Hajj correctly, in the manner prescribed and sincerely for the sake of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, it will be an expiation for his sins. The Prophet
said: "Whoever does Hajj for the sake of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, and does not have sexual relations or commit sins, will come back like the day his mother bore him." (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 15210)